Cold wave grips the Corn Belt; moderation on parts of the Plains


Cold wave grips the Corn Belt; moderation on parts of the Plains

Across the Corn Belt, cold, breezy weather continues. Sub-zero temperatures were noted Friday morning as far south as central Illinois, while readings below -20°F were common across Minnesota and North Dakota. In the coldest areas of the upper Midwest, a substantial snow cover and windchill temperatures as low as -50°F are making care of livestock difficult.

On the Plains, winds have turned to a southerly direction, allowing a warming trend to commence. In fact, Friday’s high temperatures could reach 60°F or higher as far north as southeastern Colorado; cold conditions linger, however, across the eastern Plains. Moisture remains limited across the southern half of the Plains, leaving rangeland, pastures, and winter grains in less-than-ideal condition. The end-of-December report for Colorado from USDA/NASS indicated that topsoil moisture was rated 84% very short to short, while 33% of the winter wheat crop was rated in very poor to poor condition.

In the South, lingering warmth is confined to southern Florida. Farther north, snow has ended across the interior Southeast and the middle Atlantic States, but some travel disruptions persist. Friday morning’s post-storm temperatures dipped to 10°F or below in parts of the Tennessee Valley and the mid-South, including the Ozark Plateau.

In the West, a storm system continues to deliver substantial Northwestern precipitation, extending eastward into the northern Rockies and southward into northern California. Meanwhile, mild, dry weather covers the southern half of the region. Although cautious optimism exists regarding the Western water-supply situation, more precipitation will be needed over the next 3 months to significantly dent drought, which still covers 89% of the 11-state region.